giant salamander facts for kids

Giant Salamanders are amphibians that look like crocodiles. They are also known as Cryptobranchidae and are one of the largest living amphibians in the World.

They have four legs and a 4 to 6 inches long body, usually black, brown, or muddy in color.

Their entire body has a spread of spots or strips. Giant Salamanders are native to East Asia and are also native in the eastern United States.

How many species of giant salamanders are there?

Presently, there are at least 3 distinct species of Giant Salamanders,

  1. The American Hellbender.
  2. The Japanese Giant Salamander.
  3. The Chinese Giant Salamander.

Though, this wasn’t the case earlier. Do you know, back in time, several species of giant Salamander are extinct now? Let’s briefly about them.


It is an extinct species that once includes the largest Salamanders in the World.

Andrias are only known from fossils and their existence is believed from Oligocene to the Pliocene.

It is also the largest salamander species in the World, sizing 4 ft and 9 inches.


It is a prehistoric Cryptobranchids salamander that is today an extinct genus.

Researchers know about it through a fossil that was found in stratigraphic zone 6 in the Dinosaur National Monument.


It is a genus of pancryptobranchan urodelan that contains single species named Ukrainurus hypsognathus.

Ukrainurus is a urodelan known from the Miocene of Grytsiv locality, Ukraine.

American Giant Salamander Facts For Kids
An Eastern Hellbender foraging for crayfish credit: JasonOndreicka

Fun facts about the American Hellbender

The American Hellbender facts, also known as Hellbender Salamander or the Cryptobranchus alleganiensis.

  • They are classified as the largest Salamanders in North America.
  • American Hellbender can grow up to 2 feet while can weigh equal to or more than four pounds.
  • They are the third-largest Salamanders in the World.
  • They spend most of their life under rocks.
  • In captive environments, an American Hellbender will survive for up to 29 years. Whereas in the wild, they can live up to 50 years.
  • American Hellbender is a harmless amphibian and have several names.
  • American Hellbenders are predominantly nocturnal.
  • They are fully aquatic and will never leave the water voluntarily.
  • Unlike other Salamanders, the American Hellbenders cannot regrow their limbs.
  • They have sharp enough teeth to bite through human skin.
  • They have a solid sense of smell.
  • As per fossil records, American Hellbenders are in existence for 160 million years now.
  • They are slow growers, and it takes 5 to 8 years for them to reach their sexual maturity.
  • American Hellbenders have light-sensitive cells located all over their body. These cells let them see through their whole body.

Fun facts about the Japanese Giant Salamander.

Andrias japonicus or Ōsanshōuo or The Japanese Giant Salamanders facts or Giant pepper fish.

  • They are the second-largest Salamanders in the World.
  • They can grow up to 5 feet and weigh up to 55 pounds.
  • Japanese Giant Salamanders typically live in fast-flowing water where oxygen supply is in abundance.
  • They live in forested and mountainous regions.
  • Japanese Giant Salamanders have week eyesight, and they rely mainly upon vibration and smell.
  • Because they have a prolonged metabolism, they can go weeks without eating.
  • Their life span can go as long as 70 years or even more, just like that of human beings.
  • They are one of the traditional delicacies in Japan and locals absolutely love eating them.
  • Japanese Giant Salamanders, when in captivity, tends to adapt to living in total darkness.

Fun Facts about the Chinese Giant salamanders

Andrias davidianus or Chinese Giant Salamanders facts

  • They are the largest salamanders and largest amphibians in the World.
  • Chinese Salamanders can grow up to 6 feet long though they commonly grow up to 3.7 feet.
  • Their average weight is nearly 55 to 66 lbs, but it can reach up to 110 lbs in various cases.
  • They live as long as humans, sometimes touching the age of 100 years.
  • Chinese Salamanders are also called living fossils as they have seen dinosaurs come and go.
  • As per researches, they diverged from other amphibians nearly 170 million years ago during the Jurassic Period.
  • Chinese Salamanders are critically endangered today. Water pollution, habitat loss, and over-harvesting for human consumption are some of the prime reasons for their near extinct.
  • Today, there are even less than 50,000 Giant Salamanders in the World. Most of the existing ones are not truly wild but farmed.

FAQ’S about Giant Salamanders

  1. Do giant salamanders eat humans?
    No, Giant Salamanders cannot eat humans. However, with their sharp teeth, they can bite across human flesh and skin. They usually are pretty inoffensive and will not purposely attack even if grabbed by fishermen.

  2. What is the largest Salamander ever recorded in the World?
    Until today, the largest Giant Salamander ever recorded is 5.9 feet long. It was found in the 1920s in the Southern China region.

  3. What is the smallest Salamander in the World?
    Thorius arboreus is reportedly the smallest amphibian in the World.

  4. How many years does a Giant Salamander live?
    Giant Salamander in the wild can live up to or more than 70 years. However, the once under captive lives lesser, nearly 30 to 40 years.

  5. Are Giant Salamanders Edible? Is it safe to eat Giant Salamanders?
    Yes, both the Chinese and Japanese Giant Salamanders have known delicacies of their respective countries. It is also one of the main reasons for them being an endangered species.

  6. Can I have a giant salamander as a pet?
    No, one must not keep a Giant Salamander as a pet.

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